” . . . . and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2Samuel 23:12
I read this morning about some dude, Shammah, defending a field of lentils. Initially, a lentil field doesn’t sound like something to get really upset about, let alone turn into a major military engagement. But alas, Shammah picked the lentil field & that was his “line in the sand.” This verse also says that Shammah took his stand in the field, defended it & struck down the Philistines. After Shammah’s three actions, taking his stand, defending the field & striking the Philistines, God gave him a great victory.
It seems like we often want to know that God will give us a great victory before we make the commitment to a lentil field or put out the effort to fight for something.
Sometimes I think that God waits for us to be fully engaged & committed before giving us a great victory.
Might there be a few areas in your life to which you could increase your commitment so that God would provide a great victory? This is something worth considering today!
I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.
Sometimes they ask me:
to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
to sleep in when they need to go to school.
to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.
Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!
Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.
Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.
I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!
Seems like today will be a significant day for the political scenario in the US. It feels like our nation has been through a divisive meat grinder & it will be nice to have some reprieve from the political adds on tv, at a minimum. While you & I are likely tired of the disrespectful tone this election has evoked throughout our nation, may we never grow weary of praying for our leaders, no matter who wins this presidential election. Here are three verses you might consider praying everyday for our leaders, regardless if they’re male or female:
1 Timothy 2:1-2, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.”
1 Samuel 10:6, “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man.”
These are three great verses to pray everyday for our leaders! Please consider sending this blog to three people who will consider praying these verses for our leaders!
observing the winning exchange between Nikki Hamblin & Abbey D’Agostino in the 500m qualifying race
The Olympics this year have been very incredible in many different ways. As I’ve thought about some of stand-out moments & athletes, I asked myself the questions, “In what way would I want to be an Olympian & not just in an athletic context? How could I be an olympian person in a spiritual context?” As I thought about these questions, I remembered the story of Perpetua, a third century martyr, who died as she said, “stand fast in the faith and love one another.” I applaud the athletic achievements that have marked the Olympics this year, but may our love for Jesus and others be every bit as olympian, with the help of the Holy Spirit!
It is very disturbing to read the unfolding news about the mass shooting yesterday in Orlando. A muslim security guard, armed with a semi-automatic machine gun, entered a gay bar in Orlando and began shooting. He was confronted by an off-duty police officer and manuevered into the bathroom where he maintained a stand-off for three hours while the Orlando police and emergency services worked to protect and rescue victims from the carnage and violence. Of course this story is continuing to unfold in the news and I have no doubt more information will come to light over time.
In the political world, various leaders are advocating better gun control laws, some leaders are rallying support for the LGBT community and many leaders are blaming the immigration struggles with which the US is wrestling.
As a follower of Jesus, it is my sincere prayer that my community rallies around the words of Jesus more than the world of hate. There are some people who would try to explain that because this was an attack on a gay bar, God is expressing His judgement and wrath on the homosexual community. There are other folk who would seek to ostracize muslims because of this violent atrocity.
Seems to me that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, He didn’t ask the Father to get revenge on these wicked, violent and undeserving sinners. He asked the Father to forgive the people who violently beat, condemned and hung Him on a cross – the most innocent and pure human to ever grace the human race. May our words and actions be overflowing with the grace and love that have been so richly lavished on us. Let us freely give what we have so abundantly received. We need the Holy Spirit to work into our thoughts and actions the redeeming life of Christ.
“Play to your strengths!” When I played basketball, I wasn’t very fast & I couldn’t jump high. So my coaches encouraged me to play to my strengths – I was kind of smart & I could make some good passes. This advice of playing to my strengths always seemed like sound wisdom. But there’s a weakness in this advice. Hidden in our strengths, we can often find our weaknesses as well. For example, I have a child who is very persistent & has tremendous endurance. The downside is that this child can also be stubborn. Here’s another example, I’m an extremely independent person & this strength can easily turn into a weakness when I isolate myself from help or healthy relationships. A few other strengths / weaknesses that might fit into your DNA could be:
Disciplined – inflexible
Smart – arrogant
Insightful – critical
Adaptable – uncommitted
Humble – insecure
Let’s give the Holy Spirit the freedom to manage the strengths we have so they don’t become debilitating weaknesses 🙂
“Play go your strengths!” When I played basketball, I wasn’t very fast & I couldn’t jump high. So my coaches encouraged me to play to my strengths – I was kind of smart & I could make some good passes. This advice of playing to my strengths always seemed like sound wisdom. But there’s a weakness in this advice. Hidden in our strengths, we can often find our weaknesses as well. For example, I have a child who is very persistent & has tremendous endurance. The downside is that this child can also be stubborn. Here’s another example, I’m an extremely independent person & this strength can easily turn into a weakness when I isolate myself from help or healthy relationships. A few other strengths / weaknesses that might fit into your DNA could be:
Disciplined – inflexible
Smart – arrogant
Insightful – critical
Adaptable – uncommitted
Humble – insecure
Let’s give the Holy Spirit the freedom to manage the strengths we have so they don’t become debilitating weaknesses 🙂
Clearly, this year’s presidential race has generated heaps of attention, angst, journalism opportunities and raised eyebrows. The tumultuous run-offs between Ted Cruz versus Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders have encouraged me to pray more than I ever have for this year’s election.
Regardless of your political persuasions, let’s be sure that we keep our prayer level higher than our worry level. Let’s remember that God is in control more than any man or woman. Let’s be certain that we do three things that mark us as followers of Jesus, based on John 13:35:
Loving well is letting the Holy Spirit pour God’s love into our hearts, moment by moment & day by day 🙂
The ultra famous rocker “Prince” died today at the age of 57, of causes yet unknown. If you ever listened to pop radio in the 1980s, there’s a good chance you heard at least a few of his songs – “1999”, “When Doves Cry” & “Let’s Go Crazy”, to name a few. Prince was a very private and creative person. His religious leanings were probably in the Jehovah Witness persuasion & he didn’t really comply with anything institutional nor common. At one point, he changed his name to a symbol & that’s probably where I lost the plot with him.
While you can find plenty of things in his life that didn’t agree with you, he was nevertheless an innovative creator of a rare breed. Some of that creativity was bizarre but some of it was sheer genius.
While many of the people who read this blog may not be familiar with Prince, his premature death drives home the point that life is short. Let’s be certain to live with divine intentionality and pray for the people not only in our daily living but also for the people have platform and influence in today’s culture.
My newest book, Heavenly Help, is now available to buy!! I’m more than excited for you to read this book, as its marinated in my heart for no less than the last 5 years!
This book is a fresh new look at Who the Helper is not just in theology, but in our practical & daily living!!
Please be sure to get several copies for your friends, book clubs, Sunday School groups, family members etc.
Also feel free to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, etc 🙂
This is honestly the best book I’ve ever written & it’s extremely readable & easy to apply!!
I totally love this picture. I love looking at everyone’s reactions and of course, I most love seeing this dad shoot his arm out to protect his son from the flying bat about to smash into his son’s head. Of course the photographer who captured this did an amazing job, but the real hero in the picture is the kid’s dad. As I read the back story on this picture, I learned that the kid had his head down & was texting his mom when the baseball player accidently lost his grip on the bat & let it fly out of his hands. While everyone else ducked away, the kid’s dad instinctually protected his son.
This picture makes me think about Good Friday, which is just around the corner. Good Friday is when God the Father sent His only begotten Son to take on the punishment and death that was due to each of us because of the sinful nature passed along to us from Adam’s disobedience to us from Eden. Jesus stepped into our place, received our punishment and redeemed us so we can live a resurrected life with Him. And this resurrected life happens in us because of the continuing work of the Holy Spirit, our Heavenly Help!
All the while these big events are happening throughout the world, here in Denver we have a snow day, so my kids are enjoying sledding and the boon of some extra free time. Personally, I like the shoveling exercise & the opportunity to reflect upon both big and small events.
Whatever is happening for you today, let’s remain committed to pray for the community in which we live, the city / town where we work & our nation. Let’s not be afraid of the future and let’s keep our focus and confidence in our all-knowing and all-powerful God, who loves us far more than we could grasp with our finite minds.
Our heavenly Father demonstrated the immensity of His love for us by sending His only Son in the flesh to live out the human experience, expressing genuine love throughout His life.
Yesterday, my daughter & I were going through a drive through hamburger place to grab a quick lunch and when I looked for my credit card to pay, it was missing! My heart dropped down to my toes – then I quickly started to look for my credit card & with relief found it in my car.
We can all think of various things we’ve lost in the past & what a horrible feeling it leaves in our thoughts. So when I recently read Jesus’ 3 parables about lost stuff in Luke 15 (sheep, coin & son), I was very moved by some important things for us to consider:
the shepherd, woman & father didn’t quit looking until what was lost had been found: our heavenly Father never quits & gives up trying to find & reconcile us
there was a massive celebration when the lost item / person was found & reconciled: there was no shame or scolding given to that which was lost, but rather a jubuliant celebration over the recovery & reconciliation
being lost can be expressed in lots of different contexts: the father sought to reconcile not only the renegade son, but also the self-righteous son who remained aloof & detached from his family; being right doesn’t mean we don’t need to be reconciled 🙂
We are on the homestretch with this lovely Christmas season & this makes me happy, today. There have been years when I found myself wrapping packages at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve, on the verge of an emotional meltdown, feeling overwhelmed with the work I still had to do and no time. Sometimes I can struggle with some procrastination challenges – hmmmmmm
Final countdown modes can help us be hyper-productive. But I think there’s better value in steady and consistent work than massive bursts of energy with stress and pressure.
Here are some things to think about for steady and consistent:
Let’s be consistent with love, particularly with the people who get on our nerves
Let’s be steady with healthy daily routines: eating, working out, drinking water, etc
Let’s stay consistent with growing and improving ourselves in wisdom
The most important thing for our consistency is maintaining our daily Bible & prayer time – nothing keeps us from drowning or being a victim to devotion than this discipline
My mom started memorizing Bible books when I was about 8 or 9. She was so excited about the memorizing thing that she made a house rule for us that for every 30min of TV watching, we had to memorize 2 verses in Proverbs. My brother memorized like 7 chapters & I quit watching tv because I didn’t think it was worth it.
Now that I’m more mature, I’m into the Bible memorizing thing, albeit slower than molasses in winter. Here are some advantages of doing the Bible memorizing thing:
Hiding God’s Word in our heart helps us with the not sinning thing
I find that various Bible verses pop into my mind at really strategic times, often giving clear direction or helpful strength
Reviewing my verses is a better decision at 2am than getting stressed out about various stuff that’s out of my control
Bible memorizing is good brain work
There are heaps & heaps of great advantages to keeping our minds in Bible memorizing mode 🙂
If you’ve kept up on the news, you’re probably aware of the ISIS attacks in Paris over the weekend, leaving almost 130 dead, along with massive numbers injured, a city badly shaken & many of us outraged. Truthfully, I find myself very conflicted with topic. Not only have there been attacks in Paris, but recently, a Russian plane crashed in Egypt from a terrorist attack & there’s also been an attack in Beirut leaving 43 dead & 239 injured. To make these atrocities even more barbaric, the ISIS propaganda machinery applauds these attacks and wants a bloodbath across the world, taking aim & great pleasure in particular against “Christian” nations.
My initial reaction to this crazy is to support equal if not escalated retribution & I can make a really reasonable case to neutralize this kind of crazy, with whatever means necessary. And revenge, according to Alfred Hitchcock, is sweet and not fattening. But revenge is not the path of following Jesus. Indeed, Jesus told us to turn the other cheek to our enemies, to repay evil with good and to bless when we receive cursing. Revenge is the level playing field, but as a follower of Jesus, we get to walk in a higher plane and make choices that are grounded in genuine love. Let’s pray for, bless and love well, with the help of the Holy Spirit 🙂
As I was making my way home from Singapore yesterday, I checked the news & saw there was some kind of uproar about Starbucks & Christmas. Since I’m a coffee fan, I decided to briefly look into the uproar only to be disappointed. I’m disappointed because there are many issues in our world today that are super important that need our prayers & attention. And today, Donald Trump jumped into the conversation, leaving me to speculate about not only cup decorations and caffeine, but now I get to add politics into this busy buzzy world.
All of which brings me back to thinking about what’s important & specifically what’s important about Christmas: God loves humanity & Jesus’ birth into human existence.
In the grand scheme of things, let’s keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing 🙂
Last week, a gunman killed more than 10 people at a small community college in Oregon & there’s been a renewed outcry for greater gun control in the US. For Americans, this is a difficult quandary for lots of reasons, including something about the right to bear arms, somewhere in our Bill of Rights.
Whether you agree or disagree with gun control, I think that it’s worthwhile to consider that the gun user is most likely more dangerous than the gun. And for that matter, let’s take an even bigger step back & think about how frequently we might use our mouths to shoot up another person’s character, mock their personality or magnify their mistakes.
It’s easy to point the gun, so to speak, at someone else. But let’s be sure that our words, character and actions reflect Jesus, if we claim to be His follower 🙂
In the news, I’ve been reading about Volkswagen & the massive recall they’re doing for cheating on their emissions software – about 700,000 Volkswagens have this cheater software installed in these cars. Clearly, this is a global embarrassment & I have no doubt that there are many employees who have lost their jobs from this debacle, including the resignation of their CEO. The problem we see today is obvious on a global level, but the truth is that the problem was kept behind closed doors for many years.
My takeaway from this news event is that what we entertain in our minds & allow to grow in our thinking can create behaviors & lifestyles that could be crippling & even destructive. Watching VW has been a sobering wake up call to me, challenging me to inventory my thoughts & actions for the purpose of eliminating duplicity & destruction 🙂
When I read the news, seeing all kinds of awful things going on, sometimes I want to curl up in a corner with a blanket, headphones & a good book.
And then I saw this today, which is a nice wake up call:
While I fully understand that police are flawed humans, I also appreciate that they routinely put their lives at risk to protect and serve. I like that this lady expresses her love with such sincerity & I hope I can be as authentic and sincere 🙂
This month, there’s a convergence of interesting phenomena in conjunction with many Jewish holidays and feasts. I have friends who think that this month is a very strategic month, maybe even the return of Jesus. I also have friends who think that the end of the world things in Sept is nothing more than history being repeated yet again.
Regardless of your opinion, if you think Jesus is returning this month or not, let’s keep some essential priorities in mind, based on Jesus’ teachings when He lived among us:
As a follower of Jesus, these two commandments need to shape my priorities and how I live everyday, so that whenever Jesus does return, He finds me doing His work 🙂
Last night, the Republican Party held a national debate. We heard many ideas and opinions about what the Presidential leadership for the US could look like from several candidates. Some of the ideas expressed last night were thought provoking and some of the ideas felt naive at best. Whatever you political beliefs or hopes are, let’s keep in mind a few important essentials:
prayer: 1 Tim 2:1-4 says that we should pray for our leaders; let’s make sure that we endeavor to pray for our government and it’s leaders more than we complain or worry about this topic
focus: Prov 21:1 says that the heart of a king is in God’s hands, so let’s trust that ultimately, God is sovereign
peacable living: in Rom 12:18, Paul tells us to live at peace with each other, as much as possible; with the upcoming elections, it could be very easy to be offensive or be offended by the various political positions across our nation; let’s be respectful and prayerful
love well: Jesus tells us in John 13:35 that people will recognize we are His followers by our love for one another, so let’s be committed to love well 🙂
Thank you heaps for all of the feedback on my post about the same sex marriage topic! It’s obviously a very sensitive topic for almost everyone and by the input I’ve received (some pleasant, some slippery and some hostile), I think it’s worth a final post on the topic.
I’ve been praying about this post for several days because I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit per Ephesians 4:29-32. With that being said, here are a few questions to consider on the same sex marriage topic for prayerful reflection:
Who??? When we talk about this subject, to whom are we speaking or communicating? Seems like we should think not only about what we say, but with whom we are communicating (seekers, Jesus’ followers, opponents to Jesus’ words, etc). Jesus was super clear about different messages for different audiences – but all with the same motive
How??? How we communicate is a good peek into our motives & ultimately what’s in our hearts
What??? After thinking about our motives & audience, the content of our words are very important – what are we really saying?
I’m certainly up to speed with Paul’s words about homosexuality in 1Cor 6:9, Rom 1:26-32 & the relevant verses in Levitucs & the outcomes of Sodom & Gomorrah and I do not disagree with these words. But I come back to the question of loving well from John 13:35 – the defining distinctive of Jesus’ followers is our love for each other.
To conclude, I believe that we can all find common ground in praying for our nation & our world. Let’s agree to pray for our pastors, our political leaders, key influencers and let’s pray that Jesus lives well through our lives every day 🙂
Waking up this morning, I was horrified to read about a church shooting in Charleston, SC at a Bible Study last night. From what the news said, there was a Bible Study in the church basement of Emmanuel AME and the shooter just began to shoot people. At this time, 9 people have died from the shooting and the police are calling this a hate crime. The police say the shooter is still at large and obviously there are boatloads of unanswered questions.
Here are a few things that we can do, as outside observerers and fellow believers:
pray for the families of the victims: peace, grace, strength, courage and for the comfort of the Holy Spirit to be very real to each family member
pray for the police as they search for the shooter: protection, wisdom, clarity, discernment and truth
pray for the shooter: it is a very disturbed individual who walks into a church and randomly shoots innocent people at a Bible Study
pray for the church: Emmanuel AME is a very famous and historic church, founded in the late 1700s. This church has had it’s share of historic events, including a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr in 1962; the pastor for Emmanuel AME was shot and killed last night, so our brothers and sisters at Emmanuel AME very much need our prayers